Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Italian and Religious Studies - BA (Hons)

UCAS code RV36

2018

An Italian and Religious Studies joint honours degree offers you the opportunity to learn a modern foreign language to a near-native level, and study all aspects of religion. Being able to speak the language of the most powerful European economy combined with having a traditional humanities degree lays the perfect foundation for an international career.

Overview

Italian was one of the first language departments created at Kent and we are proud to offer a course of study which gives you the opportunity to learn Italian to a high standard and gain real insight into Italian culture, literature and society. The course covers topics such as the history of Italian literature, 19th and 20th-century Italian fiction, Fascism, neorealist and post-neorealist cinema, and women writers. You can study Italian at Kent whether you have an A level or GCSE in Italian, or as a beginner.

Between Stages 2 and 3, you spend a year studying or working abroad in Italy, which will greatly improve your language skills as well as allowing you to immerse yourself in and develop your understanding of Italian culture.

Religious Studies at Kent allows you to study religion and modern culture in dynamic and original ways. You study in a vibrant department, which offers a range of modules, from biblical to Asian traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, as well as cutting-edge methodology modules taught by scholars who are at the top of their field. These modules cover psychological, sociological, anthropological and philosophical methods.

The two subjects in combination with each other give you a solid foundation in understanding other cultures, languages and beliefs, enabling you to understand the complexities of the world today. 

Independent rankings

Italian at Kent was ranked 14th in The Times Good University Guide 2017 and 1st for research quality in The Complete University Guide 2017.

Religious Studies and Theology at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2017 and 19th in The Complete University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 89% of our Religious Studies students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Possible modules may include Credits

In the decade between 1943-1952, Italian cinema produced a series of films that departed dramatically from the traditions of mainstream cinema (both that of Hollywood and that produced under Fascism). These 'Neorealist' films were enormously influential around the world and had a lasting impact on film technique and style. This course will introduce students to the study of Italian cinema through an exploration of Neorealism – arguably the most significant 'movement' in Italian film history – and the work of several of the major Italian filmmakers involved in the movement (e.g. Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti).

In particular the course will consider:

- How to analyse a film, in terms of narrative, technique and style..

- The ways in which Neorealism constituted an alternative mode of practice to that of mainstream cinema (e.g. Hollywood) and the ways in which it rejected the tenets of the cinema of the Fascist era.

- The notion of realism in the cinema, in particular through the work of theorists such as André Bazin and Cesare Zavattini, and the ways in which this concept can be applied to the films studied.

- The social and political upheavals of wartime and post-war Italy and how these were reflected and negotiated in film.

- How and why Neorealism ended in the early 1950s and the ways in which its legacy is reflected in later Italian films.

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This module aims to introduce students to Italian literature and culture from the Unification to the late 20th century. It will explore the principal historical events of this period (e.g. the Risorgimento, Fascism, the Second World War and the birth of the new Republic, the 'economic miracle', the 'years of lead' and the Berlusconi era) and examine how these periods have been interpreted by a number of key literary authors, artists and intellectuals such as Di Lampedusa, Vittorini and Pasolini. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relationship between Italian literature and social and political history.

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This module will introduce students to discussions about the definition of religion and to some of the disciplines in which religion is studied, with special reference to the differences between Theology and Religious Studies. Particular consideration will be given in the initial weeks to the phenomenological approach and to the efficacy of Ninian Smart’s dimensions of religion. In the following weeks, the module will be focused on the comparative study of religion (with reference to Eliade), the sociology of religion (with reference to Durkheim, Weber and Marx) and the psychology of religion (with reference to Otto, James, Freud and Jung). The module will also host a study skills session to be run in conjunction with the Student Learning Advisory Service, the aim of which is to equip students with key study skills in the areas of writing essays, referencing and plagiarism-prevention.

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The Bible is not a single book, but ta biblia, the library. At the most modest estimate, the literatures of the Bible span a period of over eight hundred years. If we think of the metaphor of a library, the books in the Bible would not just be shelved in the Religion/Theology section, but also, say, Philosophy, Politics and Cultural History/Myth. The influence of these books on ‘Western’ culture has been immense. This is a course for those seeking basic biblical ‘literacy’, which is profoundly useful for studies in other disciplines (e.g. History, or Literature), as well as for students in Religious Studies. It is a course for those who think they already know the Bible (this course will help you read the Bible in different ways, with new questions) and those who have never read a Bible at all. The course gives a basic overview of the story and contexts of the books of the Bible (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and New Testament) from Genesis to the Apocalypse of John, or from Eden to the End of the World.

This course provides a basic introduction to different sections of the biblical ‘library’, combining a general overview with in-depth study of selected passages and books.

NB: As with all Biblical Studies courses at the University of Kent, ‘Bible’ is defined in the broadest sense: the Christian and Jewish canons (73 or 66 books, though we won’t be studying all of them!) apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and also all the ancient and modern intertexts, poems, films and novels, that inform and draw on biblical traditions.

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The aim of this module is to introduce students to the study of Christianity, through a consideration of key ideas, texts, symbols, stories, rituals, conflicts and continuities, across contemporary and historical contexts. The course will offer a broad overview of two thousand years of Christian history, and seek to address the question of how the cult surrounding an obscure spiritual teacher from first century Nazareth became the world's largest religion, currently estimated at over two billion adherents. It will address the early church, eastern and western traditions, the medieval church, the Reformation and the relations between Christianity and modernity, as well as focusing on contemporary forms of Christianity, and the rapid growth since the 1970s of churches in the global South. By examining key concepts and practices across a range of historical and contemporary settings, the course will explore how the meaning and significance of these have often been subject to violent contestation, both amongst Christians and in their encounters with other religions. It will therefore encourage students to appreciate how the ideas and convictions that are often used to defend or attack Christianity have themselves been shaped by this history.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Possible modules may include Credits

This module is the natural follow-on for those who have, in the previous academic year, successfully taken an intensive beginners Italian course such as IT301, and who have covered the basics of grammar, acquired a stock of high frequency vocabulary and reached a degree of proficiency beyond GCSE and approaching A-level (A2 way stage in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference).

IT508 is designed to bring students from A2 level to B1 threshold, turning students into independent users of Italian, in both oral and written contexts. The course is thus also designed to prepare students for their year abroad and independent life in Italy as a foreign country. IT508 is an intensive course, which develops the student's active and passive aural and written skills.

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IT563 is an intermediate level module. Its aims are to strengthen and widen the linguistic knowledge provided in IT308, to consolidate students' vocabulary and improve their knowledge of written and spoken Italian through immersion in a variety of texts, and to practise translation skills both from and into Italian. IT563 is an intensive course which requires serious commitment.

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This module focuses on a number of Italian contemporary short stories. More specifically, this module discusses the literary treatment of love, and the love story, in the short stories of some of the most important Italian writers of the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century. Works by worldwide renowned authors such as Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Cesare Pavese, and Leonardo Sciascia, accomplished "postmodernist" writers belonging to a younger generation such as Antonio Tabucchi and Pier Vittorio Tondelli, as well as less celebrated authors such as Gianni Celati and Fabrizia Ramondino, will be taken into consideration. While not underestimating the profound economic, social and political changes that Italy underwent during the last sixty years, particular emphasis will be given to the similar way in which all these writers seem to fictionally conceive of the love relationship as a missed encounter. In spite of the manifold forms of love being described in these texts (between husband and wife; wife and lover; young boy and ideal father; sister and brother; mother and daughter; two young men, etc.), all the short stories chronologically analysed in this module seem to rely on Calvino's provoking suggestion according to which the missed encounter is the "fundamental element" of love relationships.

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Despite her incomparable heritage, Italy experienced for many centuries a sense of cultural provincialism, with the world's intellectual curiosity switching to Paris, London, New York, and other centres of innovation. This module focuses on the clear connections between rapid socio-economic and socio-political change and the thrust for cultural modernity that made 20th century Italy once more a key contributor to the literary and visual arts in Europe and beyond. A wide variety of Italian 'texts' of the first half of the 20th century will be taken into consideration, including novels, plays, short stories and films.

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This will depend on the subject matter and the advice of the supervisor. The subject will be broadly within the field of Italian Studies.

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This module will enable students to analyze and understand the development of Christian theology over the last two hundred years. We will be critically evaluating the significance and contribution of a number of leading twentieth century theologians from a variety of denominational backgrounds and endeavouring to understand to a sophisticated degree the changes in Christian thought and practice in a variety of situations in the twentieth century. The module will begin by surveying the main strands of post-Enlightenment Christian theology, including the contributions of Kant, Schleiermacher and Feuerbach. There will be a detailed focus of two of the 'Death of God' theologians from the twentieth century, Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton. We will then critically evaluate the significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his influence (with particular reference to Harvey Cox and John A.T. Robinson); Liberal Protestantism and the rise of Neo-Orthodoxy, with particular reference to Paul Tillich and Karl Barth; Rudolf Bultmann and his programme of demythologization; and an interrogation of the Christian understanding of 'hope' with specific reference to Jürgen Moltmann. The module also involves a study of key theological movements, in particular Liberation Theology, Black Theology and Feminist Theology.

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The purpose of this module is to survey some of the most significant 20th century trends in the dialogue between psychology and religion through the writings of depth-psychologists, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists and phenomenologists of religion. The module begins by exploring the varieties of religious experience, especially through the work of William James and Rudolf Otto, after which it examines the contributions of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology to the study of religion, particularly in the work of Freud, Jung and Hillman. This material provides the basis for subsequent discussion of the interdisciplinary literature comparing religious altered states of consciousness (mystical, visionary and paranormal experiences) with other altered states of consciousness (madness, drug induced experiences etc.). The module concludes by discussing the principle issues addressed by transpersonal psychology (particularly in the work of Wilber and Grof): the relationship between western psychotherapies and eastern religious disciplines of spiritual emancipation; competing models of spiritual transformation.

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The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularization, subjectivization), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualization, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual's life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.

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The primary aims of this module are to give you a critical grounding in Islamic sources, thinkers and theories relevant to the development of Islamic liberal and fundamentalist perspectives, and it also explores the ways in which these perspectives bear upon contemporary debates and events. It will equip you with the ability to situate current views within their historical and theological context, critically assess them, and constructively apply them to current phenomena. The module will introduce you to key Islamic debates such as those which address textual interpretation, the relation between revelation and human reason, and the nature of political authority. It will familiarise you with key sources such as the Qur'an, Hadith and treatises of key Islamic theologians and jurists, and it will introduce you to classical and modern theorists from Ibn Taymiyyah to Tariq Ramadan. A range of case studies will allow you to apply these sources and theories to contemporary situations. The module draws lessons for critical thinking about the way in which social context and religious premises affect both religious and political theories. These sources and skills will provide a basis for the analytical work that you undertake in your assessed work.

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This module will be divided into two parts. First, it will familiarise students with how Continental philosophy has developed in response to methodological and historical questions. Second, it will then show how Continental philosophy applies to the philosophy of religion by discussing traditional religious problems—e.g., the existence of God, the problem of theodicy, the conception of the good life—and seeing how seminal Continental thinkers engage with these issues in diverse ways. The first part of the module will discuss critical, historical-based methodologies in: philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer and Ricoeur), phenomenology (Dupré and Marion) and geneaology (Foucault). The second part of the module will utilise contemporary scholarship consisting in contemporary philosophers applying the aforementioned methodological approaches to religious problems.

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The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the history and practice of the anthropology of religion through the past 150 years. Students will explore the ‘anthropology of religion’ to provide an historical and contemporary understanding of how anthropological studies of religion enrich knowledge of what it means to be religious. The course will examine and students will practise the anthropological method of rich participant observation and comparative analysis. Course content focuses on foundational and contemporary issues of religious definition, ritual, belief, embodiment, rationality and relationships in both Western and non-western contexts.

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This module will explore the theme of ‘Biblical Codes’ from two angles:

1) How has the Bible been read as code?

2) How can we read/ ‘decode’ biblical mysteries (prophecy, apocalyptic, or ‘wisdom’)

Under heading 1) we will be exploring how different writers and groups (some of them inside the Bible, some of them outside it) have read the Bible as temporal or political code. For example, the biblical book of Daniel attempts to decode the book of Jeremiah, which had already become deeply mysterious to ancient readers. Similarly, the New Testament ‘deciphers’ biblical prophecy and motifs by applying them to Jesus or the Roman Empire. At the other end of the time spectrum, we find bestsellers like Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code (1997), Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye’s attempts to decrypt biblical visions of the end of time by way of contemporary global politics, or recent readings of the book of Ezekiel as prophecies about UFO’s. Techniques of decryption are also built into central developments within Jewish and Christian traditions. In fact, what is often called the history of ‘hermeneutics’ could also be described as the history of ‘How not to read literally’. We will be looking at a range of examples of such developments by focusing on readers like Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, or Jewish Kabbalah.

Under heading 2, we will undertake some in-depth readings of prophecy, apocalyptic, or wisdom texts—the ones that readers of the Bible find most difficult to ‘decode’. Texts to be studied will be taken from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Pseudepigrapha. We will be exploring the contexts that produced these literatures and thinking about how to read (decipher?) them across the abyss of time.

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This module will examine the main doctrines and practices of early Indian Buddhism as seen through the Theravada Buddhist literature of the Pali canon (in translation). The module will examine what we might know about the figure of the historical Buddha and the central concepts and doctrinal themes in his teachings as represented in these materials, with particular attention paid to their historical and social context and the philosophical, soteriological, ethical and socio-political ideas expressed within early Buddhist literature in the period 500 BCE to 500 CE. The module will also consider the rise of "Theravada" and modern developments within this tradition of Buddhism.

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This module explores the cultural specificity and diversity of Asian cultures, traditions, social and political systems and literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The topic of Asia will be approached on a thematic basis but with particular emphasis on an understanding of the historical and interpretive challenges to inter-cultural understanding between Asia and Europe/ the West.

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This module will evaluate and critique a range of historical, philosophical, theological and secular perspectives on death and the afterlife, beginning with the way the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Qu’ran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Upanishads conceptualize the nature and destiny of humankind, including such concepts as sheol, moksha, purgatory, eternal life, heaven and hell. This will be followed by a discussion of the interplay in western theological and philosophical traditions between competing notions of the resurrection of the flesh and the immortality of the body as well as an evaluation of what various Christian thinkers, including Augustine and Origen, believed that an eternity in heaven or hell might be like. The module will then investigate the range of eschatological teachings that different traditions have offered, including in Christian thought the diversity of realized and future forms of eschatology, as well as the tenability of purported testimony surrounding the possibility of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and mind-dependent worlds, and the way in which such endeavours have been sustained or critiqued in the light of scientific and historical advances. The module will conclude with a detailed study of the way in which filmmakers and novelists have approached eschatological and apocalyptic teachings and reconceptualised them, with specific reference to Conrad Ostwalt’s work on the desacralization of the apocalypse in Jewish and Christian thought in a range of 1990s Hollywood science fiction movies, and the impact that such attempts have had on the way questions of life after death have conventionally been approached.

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Recent cultural and political theories have been haunted by the question of religion, its definitions and functions, its emancipatory capacities, its relation to violence, and its relationship to the history and future of the concept of the secular. The centrality of religion as a topic for these recent interdisciplinary discussions has emerged in relationship to a growing unease about earlier, modern modes of distinguishing public and private life; a ‘return’ of religion as an internationally significant political force in recent decades; and surprising appropriations of religion as a figure for secular Western democracy. Theorists (particularly in the area of postcolonial theory) are questioning naturalized or ahistorical distinctions between religion and the secular (e.g., Talal Asad, Tomoko Masuzawa, Saba Mahmood). Many contemporary thinkers attempt to short-circuit the distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’, making possible surprising paradoxes of a “materialist theology” (Slavoj Žižek), an “emptied” religiosity (Gianni Vattimo), or what Hent de Vries calls simply a “political theology”. Once we get down beneath the easily-rehearsed stereotypes, we find that the old religious archives (like the Bible) model competing forms of politics: from messianic anarchism to theocracy. In our political histories—and presents—these have been used (and now are being re-used) in surprising ways.

This course considers important moments in the Western history of political theology in order to understand modern and contemporary discussions of secular politics. These moments will be considered in relation to comparable instances of politically imagined theology (or theologically imagined politics) from other religious traditions as well. Students will:

- examine key topics in the modern formation of these discussions (e.g., distinctions between public and private; secular spheres; religion as extra-political ideal; fanaticism; politicized evaluations of Western religion as exceptional in relation to the ‘others’; religion and political revolution)

- map important similarities and differences between Western and non-Western modelling of the relationship between religion and politics

- critically evaluate recent presentations of the inherent violence of religions, the inevitability of the clash of civilizations, and the usefulness of religion in ‘making globalization work’

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(As with all Biblical Studies courses at the University of Kent, 'Bible' is defined in the broadest sense: the Christian and Jewish canons [73 or 66 books, though we won't be studying all of them!] apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and also all the ancient and modern intertexts, poems, films and novels, that inform and draw on biblical traditions).

The Bible is commonly thought of as a book that has got its story together, and a bastion of monotheism. We think of the Bible as the very opposite of the projects of Comparative Literature and Comparative Religion: one book, one literature, and one God. But as soon as we start reading we discover a library (biblia) of divergent books, literatures and gods. The bulk of the 'books’ in the Bible pre-date structures like the codex and the author. They borrow, often very explicitly, from other literatures: for example, Wisdom Literature and Proverb Collections from Egypt and Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman novels and philosophical tracts.

The narratives of the Bible are often told in strange ways that force the question of the comparative, the plural and the stranger. (The only reason we have not noticed this is because of the cultural structures we impose on the Bible.) The birth of the nation is often presented as a twin birth, with a perverse emphasis on the other brother who was there before us (see for example the stories of Esau and Jacob, or Ishmael and Hagar). Moses was clearly and problematically Egyptian, long before Freud. The gospels are famously synoptic, or comparative. The story of creation splits into two stories, as if mimicking the God who creates by dividing (e.g. the day from the night). It’s as if the Bible wants to set itself up as a primal template for comparative studies, tempting us to ask ‘Why didn’t the Bible simply delete the others, and purify itself?’ Even God is plural. It is not just that ‘he’ is monotheistic and trinitarian, Jewish and Christian. (In fact there is no trinity in the Bible.) The gods of the Bible are constantly mimicking other gods, and complaining that they have been mixed with foreign deities. Even at his most monotheistic, God is unsure as to whether he is (or aspires to be) the chief one, or the only one. He is not even sure of his gender (see the imported figure of Egyptian Ma’at or the Goddess of Wisdom as Hokhmah or Sophia).

Through a series of selected readings students will critically engage the question of the comparative, the plural and the foreigner by looking at:

a) the question of the other, or the outside on the Bible’s inside.

b) Other literatures from which the Bible borrows (e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh or Lives of the Philosophers)

c) Narratives that are othered, doubled or tripled within the Bible (inner-biblical mimicry)

d) Examples from modern literature, film and philosophy that adapt and respond to biblical narratives, tropes and gods.

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This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of ‘modernity’.

The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified ‘religion’ as an object of study in ways that has historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.

The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed will include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability. 

All European Language students (French, German, Hispanic Studies and Italian) are required to spend a Year Abroad between Stages 2 and 3 in a country where the European language is spoken. You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stage 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad. If the requirement is not met, you may have to postpone your Year Abroad.

The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. You spend the year working as an English language assistant or in approved employment, or studying at one of our partner universities. For a full list of our partner universities, please visit Go Abroad.

Possible modules may include Credits

Students either study at a relevant foreign university or work (either as teaching assistants or in some other approved capacity).

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Stage 3

Possible modules may include Credits

The module develops advanced proficiency in writing, speaking and comprehending Italian. It concentrates on translation into Italian and English and the development of analytical skills in the production of written and spoken Italian. Translation exercises confront students with a variety of advanced texts in different styles and registers, and encourage accuracy and critical reflection as well as acquisition and consolidation of grammatical structures. The language skills component combines discursive writing on advanced topics with the development of proper oral competence through discussion. Conversation classes with a native speaker develop presentational ability, and enable students to speak fluently and idiomatically at the advanced level.

Students engage in the following activities throughout the year:

• translation from Italian into English, using a range of registers and topics

• translation from English into Italian, using journalistic and literary texts

• study grammatical and lexical subtleties of the Italian language

• group discussion on specific topics

• preparation for oral examination in small groups

• written composition in Italian.

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This module discusses contemporary film adaptations (90s-2000s) taken from four different Italian textual sources (children's tale, monologue, novel and non-fiction) under the following main aspects:

• as "parallel" works which supplement the original literary texts. Films expand, update and adjust the themes of the original literary texts to the historical, social and cultural context in which the adaptations are made.

• as works of literary criticism. The way the narrative of a film adaptation is structured and the way a film chooses to selectively focus on some particular episodes and themes is evidence of how the film director critically analyses the literary text and "re-writes" it in the form of a screenplay and in the editing of the material filmed;

• as an altogether "new" product that structurally differs from the original literary source. Cinema's language relies on signifying images or visual signs that are irreducible to those of written and spoken languages;

• finally, we will analyse the impact that filmmaking had on the art of writing, assessing the extent to which contemporary novels are often already written with the big screen in mind.

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This module aims at developing students' visual literacy within the context of Italian studies, by teaching the skills necessary for the reading of static visual materials, especially photography. Contextually, it aims at developing and enhancing the critical response of students to such imagery, with particular focus on their social, cultural and political context. Photography worldwide has been at the centre of daily life, artistic production and political propaganda for the last century and a half. This holds all the more true for Italy, whose contemporary history as a unified country begins almost at the same time as the popularisation of photography. This module will explore this relationship on a socio-historical basis: It will analyse, among other topics, the portrayal of the Risorgimento; Lombroso’s criminological and anthropometric use of photography; pseudo-anthropological photography in colonialist exploits, racism and eugenics; Fascist propaganda; futurism and modernism; neo-realist documentary photography and its influence on photojournalism of the 1960s-70s; the paparazzi, fashion and advertisement; photography and the contemporary visual arts; digital photography and social networks. By means of a close reading of photographic and other visual materials, the students will gain a profound understanding of the practices—ideological, political, commercial, aesthetic, social—that produce such materials within the modern Italian cultural context.

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This course complicates the notion that there is a unifying concept of an Italian national cinema.

Specifically, it will examine particular instances of filmic production operating outside of the national and cinematic capital of Rome, examining both the factors determining and constraining the emergence of such filmmaking practices, and the ways in which the films they produce may differ from those produced in the capital and associated with an Italian national cinema.

To achieve this, the module will focus on a number of case studies, such as:

• The cinema of Naples, analysed in relation to the question of Neapolitan identity and cultural difference.

• The cinema of Turin, as a product of deliberate regional funding and cultural heritage strategies.

• The cinema of Sicily, seen in relation to the problematising of cultural stereotypes.

• How certain 'national' film productions have dealt with the problematic notion of Italian national/regional identity.

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The student will spend one half-day per week for ten weeks in a school. Students will work in a school, with a nominated teacher, for ten half days during the Spring Term and will have the opportunity to promote their subject in a variety of ways. The Course Convenor will place students in appropriate schools, either primary or secondary. They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. They will act to some extent in the role of a teaching assistant, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may take 'hotspots': brief sessions with the whole class where they explain a language topic or talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school. The university sessions and weekly school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance.

Some travel may be required by students taking this module. In this instance, it should be noted that the University is unable to cover the cost of any such journey.

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This module will examine the theme 'Global Christianities' through the lenses of the anthropology of Christianity and the sociology of religion. We will explore the ways in which we can see Christianity as a cultural product, and how Christianity has shaped different cultures and societies globally, as well as how the religion has been shaped by and through encounters in different local settings. We will look at the history of the globalization of Christianity, and consider the historical, political and economic effects of local missionary encounters. The course will examine the processes of conversion to Christianity in different contexts, both at the level of individual and broader social group, and how these have been understood in relation to concepts of ‘modernity’.

The course will draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of the anthropology of Christianity in relation to the broader disciplines of anthropology as a discrete area of study and how this relates to the study of Christianity as a global phenomenon within sociology. We will consider the ways in which these disciplines have constructed and objectified ‘religion’ as an object of study in ways that has historically occluded the social scientific study of Christianity in different global contexts.

The course will address some of the main debates in the anthropology of Christianity, deepening understanding of global Christianities through exploring studies of Christian cultures in diverse ethnographic contexts. The topics addressed will include: culture and conversion; globalization and localisation; interrelations between Christianity, subjectivity and language; embodied and emotional forms of different Christianities; concepts and experiences of God; mediation, immanence and transcendence; coherence and fragmentation; gender, sexuality and the family. Through engaging with readings on these areas, we will explore the socio-religious power-dynamics of Christianity in relation to both culturally dominant and marginal traditions.

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This course explores the central teachings, practices and sacred texts of Mahåyåna Buddhism and will focus upon the first 500 years of its history in India. It will examine the rise and development of Mahåyåna Buddhism in India through analysis of its key sacred literature and philosophical schools as well as its subsequent spread to East and North Asia.

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(As with all Biblical Studies courses at the University of Kent, 'Bible' is defined in the broadest sense: the Christian and Jewish canons [73 or 66 books, though we won’t be studying all of them!] apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, and also all the ancient and modern intertexts, poems, films and novels, that inform and draw on biblical traditions).

The Bible is commonly thought of as a book that has got its story together, and a bastion of monotheism. We think of the Bible as the very opposite of the projects of Comparative Literature and Comparative Religion: one book, one literature, and one God. But as soon as we start reading we discover a library (biblia) of divergent books, literatures and gods. The bulk of the ‘books’ in the Bible pre-date structures like the codex and the author. They borrow, often very explicitly, from other literatures: for example, Wisdom Literature and Proverb Collections from Egypt and Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman novels and philosophical tracts.

The narratives of the Bible are often told in strange ways that force the question of the comparative, the plural and the stranger. (The only reason we have not noticed this is because of the cultural structures we impose on the Bible.) The birth of the nation is often presented as a twin birth, with a perverse emphasis on the other brother who was there before us (see for example the stories of Esau and Jacob, or Ishmael and Hagar). Moses was clearly and problematically Egyptian, long before Freud. The gospels are famously synoptic, or comparative. The story of creation splits into two stories, as if mimicking the God who creates by dividing (e.g. the day from the night). It’s as if the Bible wants to set itself up as a primal template for comparative studies, tempting us to ask ‘Why didn’t the Bible simply delete the others, and purify itself?’ Even God is plural. It is not just that ‘he’ is monotheistic and trinitarian, Jewish and Christian. (In fact there is no trinity in the Bible.) The gods of the Bible are constantly mimicking other gods, and complaining that they have been mixed with foreign deities. Even at his most monotheistic, God is unsure as to whether he is (or aspires to be) the chief one, or the only one. He is not even sure of his gender (see the imported figure of Egyptian Ma’at or the Goddess of Wisdom as Hokhmah or Sophia).

Through a series of selected readings students will critically engage the question of the comparative, the plural and the foreigner by looking at:

a) the question of the other, or the outside on the Bible’s inside.

b) Other literatures from which the Bible borrows (e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh or Lives of the Philosophers)

c) Narratives that are othered, doubled or tripled within the Bible (inner-biblical mimicry)

d) Examples from modern literature, film and philosophy that adapt and respond to biblical narratives, tropes and gods.

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Recent cultural and political theories have been haunted by the question of religion, its definitions and functions, its emancipatory capacities, its relation to violence, and its relationship to the history and future of the concept of the secular. The centrality of religion as a topic for these recent interdisciplinary discussions has emerged in relationship to a growing unease about earlier, modern modes of distinguishing public and private life; a ‘return’ of religion as an internationally significant political force in recent decades; and surprising appropriations of religion as a figure for secular Western democracy. Theorists (particularly in the area of postcolonial theory) are questioning naturalized or ahistorical distinctions between religion and the secular (e.g., Talal Asad, Tomoko Masuzawa, Saba Mahmood). Many contemporary thinkers attempt to short-circuit the distinction between ‘religion’ and ‘politics’, making possible surprising paradoxes of a “materialist theology” (Slavoj Žižek), an “emptied” religiosity (Gianni Vattimo), or what Hent de Vries calls simply a “political theology”. Once we get down beneath the easily-rehearsed stereotypes, we find that the old religious archives (like the Bible) model competing forms of politics: from messianic anarchism to theocracy. In our political histories—and presents—these have been used (and now are being re-used) in surprising ways.

This course considers important moments in the Western history of political theology in order to understand modern and contemporary discussions of secular politics. These moments will be considered in relation to comparable instances of politically imagined theology (or theologically imagined politics) from other religious traditions as well. Students will:

- examine key topics in the modern formation of these discussions (e.g., distinctions between public and private; secular spheres; religion as extra-political ideal; fanaticism; politicized evaluations of Western religion as exceptional in relation to the ‘others’; religion and political revolution)

- map important similarities and differences between Western and non-Western modelling of the relationship between religion and politics

- critically evaluate recent presentations of the inherent violence of religions, the inevitability of the clash of civilizations, and the usefulness of religion in ‘making globalization work’

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This module will evaluate and critique a range of historical, philosophical, theological and secular perspectives on death and the afterlife, beginning with the way the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Qu’ran, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Upanishads conceptualize the nature and destiny of humankind, including such concepts as sheol, moksha, purgatory, eternal life, heaven and hell. This will be followed by a discussion of the interplay in western theological and philosophical traditions between competing notions of the resurrection of the flesh and the immortality of the body as well as an evaluation of what various Christian thinkers, including Augustine and Origen, believed that an eternity in heaven or hell might be like. The module will then investigate the range of eschatological teachings that different traditions have offered, including in Christian thought the diversity of realized and future forms of eschatology, as well as the tenability of purported testimony surrounding the possibility of out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and mind-dependent worlds, and the way in which such endeavours have been sustained or critiqued in the light of scientific and historical advances. The module will conclude with a detailed study of the way in which filmmakers and novelists have approached eschatological and apocalyptic teachings and reconceptualised them, with specific reference to Conrad Ostwalt’s work on the desacralization of the apocalypse in Jewish and Christian thought in a range of 1990s Hollywood science fiction movies, and the impact that such attempts have had on the way questions of life after death have conventionally been approached.

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This module is aimed at those students who would like to follow a career as Primary or Secondary School teachers, but is also suitable to those who would like to combine an academic course with work experience. Placements in a school environment will enhance the students' employment opportunities as they will acquire a range of skills. It will also provide the students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of Religious Education and Philosophy in the primary or secondary school context. The university sessions and weekly school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance. The student will spend one half-day per week for ten weeks in a school where each student will have a designated teacher-mentor who will guide their work in school. They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers’ tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

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This module will examine the main doctrines and practices of early Indian Buddhism as seen through the Theravada Buddhist literature of the Pali canon (in translation). The module will examine what we might know about the figure of the historical Buddha and the central concepts and doctrinal themes in his teachings as represented in these materials, with particular attention paid to their historical and social context and the philosophical, soteriological, ethical and socio-political ideas expressed within early Buddhist literature in the period 500 BCE to 500 CE. The module will also consider the rise of "Theravada" and modern developments within this tradition of Buddhism.

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This module will explore the theme of ‘Biblical Codes’ from two angles:

1) How has the Bible been read as code?

2) How can we read/ ‘decode’ biblical mysteries (prophecy, apocalyptic, or ‘wisdom’)

Under heading 1) we will be exploring how different writers and groups (some of them inside the Bible, some of them outside it) have read the Bible as temporal or political code. For example, the biblical book of Daniel attempts to decode the book of Jeremiah, which had already become deeply mysterious to ancient readers. Similarly, the New Testament ‘deciphers’ biblical prophecy and motifs by applying them to Jesus or the Roman Empire. At the other end of the time spectrum, we find bestsellers like Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code (1997), Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye’s attempts to decrypt biblical visions of the end of time by way of contemporary global politics, or recent readings of the book of Ezekiel as prophecies about UFO’s. Techniques of decryption are also built into central developments within Jewish and Christian traditions. In fact, what is often called the history of ‘hermeneutics’ could also be described as the history of ‘How not to read literally’. We will be looking at a range of examples of such developments by focusing on readers like Philo of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, or Jewish Kabbalah.

Under heading 2, we will undertake some in-depth readings of prophecy, apocalyptic, or wisdom texts—the ones that readers of the Bible find most difficult to ‘decode’. Texts to be studied will be taken from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Pseudepigrapha. We will be exploring the contexts that produced these literatures and thinking about how to read (decipher?) them across the abyss of time.

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The aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the history and practice of the anthropology of religion through the past 150 years. Students will explore the ‘anthropology of religion’ to provide an historical and contemporary understanding of how anthropological studies of religion enrich knowledge of what it means to be religious. The course will examine and students will practise the anthropological method of rich participant observation and comparative analysis. Course content focuses on foundational and contemporary issues of religious definition, ritual, belief, embodiment, rationality and relationships in both Western and non-western contexts.

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The primary aims of this module are to give you a critical grounding in Islamic sources, thinkers and theories relevant to the development of Islamic liberal and fundamentalist perspectives, and it also explores the ways in which these perspectives bear upon contemporary debates and events. It will equip you with the ability to situate current views within their historical and theological context, critically assess them, and constructively apply them to current phenomena. The module will introduce you to key Islamic debates such as those which address textual interpretation, the relation between revelation and human reason, and the nature of political authority. It will familiarise you with key sources such as the Qur'an, Hadith and treatises of key Islamic theologians and jurists, and it will introduce you to classical and modern theorists from Ibn Taymiyyah to Tariq Ramadan. A range of case studies will allow you to apply these sources and theories to contemporary situations. The module draws lessons for critical thinking about the way in which social context and religious premises affect both religious and political theories. These sources and skills will provide a basis for the analytical work that you undertake in your assessed work.

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This module will be divided into two parts. First, it will familiarise students with how Continental philosophy has developed in response to methodological and historical questions. Second, it will then show how Continental philosophy applies to the philosophy of religion by discussing traditional religious problems—e.g., the existence of God, the problem of theodicy, the conception of the good life—and seeing how seminal Continental thinkers engage with these issues in diverse ways. The first part of the module will discuss critical, historical-based methodologies in: philosophical hermeneutics (Gadamer and Ricoeur), phenomenology (Dupré and Marion) and geneaology (Foucault). The second part of the module will utilise contemporary scholarship consisting in contemporary philosophers applying the aforementioned methodological approaches to religious problems.

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This module will enable students to analyze and understand the development of Christian theology over the last two hundred years. We will be critically evaluating the significance and contribution of a number of leading twentieth century theologians from a variety of denominational backgrounds and endeavouring to understand to a sophisticated degree the changes in Christian thought and practice in a variety of situations in the twentieth century. The module will begin by surveying the main strands of post-Enlightenment Christian theology, including the contributions of Kant, Schleiermacher and Feuerbach. There will be a detailed focus of two of the 'Death of God' theologians from the twentieth century, Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton. We will then critically evaluate the significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his influence (with particular reference to Harvey Cox and John A.T. Robinson); Liberal Protestantism and the rise of Neo-Orthodoxy, with particular reference to Paul Tillich and Karl Barth; Rudolf Bultmann and his programme of demythologization; and an interrogation of the Christian understanding of ‘hope’ with specific reference to Jürgen Moltmann. The module also involves a study of key theological movements, in particular Liberation Theology, Black Theology and Feminist Theology.

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The purpose of this module is to survey some of the most significant 20th century trends in the dialogue between psychology and religion through the writings of depth-psychologists, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists and phenomenologists of religion. The module begins by exploring the varieties of religious experience, especially through the work of William James and Rudolf Otto, after which it examines the contributions of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology to the study of religion, particularly in the work of Freud, Jung and Hillman. This material provides the basis for subsequent discussion of the interdisciplinary literature comparing religious altered states of consciousness (mystical, visionary and paranormal experiences) with other altered states of consciousness (madness, drug induced experiences etc.). The module concludes by discussing the principle issues addressed by transpersonal psychology (particularly in the work of Wilber and Grof): the relationship between western psychotherapies and eastern religious disciplines of spiritual emancipation; competing models of spiritual transformation.

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Students are required to identify a viable research focus or question for their project which they will then pursue, with supervisory support, in order to submit their final dissertation. In the summer before joining the module, students will be given advice on how to identify their research focus, and by the start of the autumn term in which the module begins they will be expected to have produced a single side of A4 summarising key literature or other sources relevant to their specific project. Individual supervision will begin from the autumn term onwards. Initially this is likely to focus on clarifying the research focus or question, and situating it more deeply in existing literature and debates. Following this a clearer outline plan for conducting the research will be developed, with students then undertaking work necessary to meet each phase of this plan. If the project involves original fieldwork, the student will be expected to submit a research ethics application form for Faculty approval. As the project develops, chapter drafts will be submitted for review and discussion with the supervisor. Supervision contact time is likely to vary according to the project and student need, but will not exceed a total of 6 hours per student (including face to face supervision or time spent writing written feedback to electronically-submitted drafts). Supervisors will provide feedback on chapter drafts, which will need to be submitted to supervisors in good time before supervision meetings, but will not provide feedback on whole draft manuscripts once chapters are completed.

Supervisors will only provide supervisory support during term-time. Once the project has been agreed and a supervisor allocated in the autumn term, students will not normally be allowed to change their fundamental focus of their project (although their specific questions are likely to change as the project develops) or change their supervisor unless in highly exceptional circumstances.

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The aim of this module is to enable students to think sociologically about religious life. Whilst addressing key debates within the sociology of religion (e.g. secularization, subjectivization), it seeks to introduce students to core concepts and methods in sociology that will enable them to understand religious life in terms of broader social structures and processes. Examples of issues covered in the module include: the nature of sociology as a discipline, macro and micro levels of analysis, the agency/structure debate and the nature of social structure, individualization, and sociological perspectives on gender, class, emotion, materiality and belief. The significance of intersectionality between different social structures will also be discussed, and useful sources of secondary data (e.g. BRIN) will be explored. The central assessment task for the module – a case study presenting the sociological analysis of the nature and place of religion in a particular individual’s life – brings these theoretical and methodological approaches together into a micro-level analysis of lived religion in a way that is informed by broader social and cultural structures. Examples of good writing in this style of sociological research are presented and explored through the module.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Teaching and assessment

Italian

Teaching is by lectures and seminars. We have extensive technical facilities, including audio, video and computer-assisted language learning.

Depending on the modules you select, assessment throughout all stages of the course varies from 100% coursework, to a combination of examination and coursework, in the ratio 50:50, 60:40, 70:30 or 80:20.

Religious Studies

You are usually taught in small groups, with most modules involving either two or three hours per week in class, plus individual consultations with teachers as well as sessions on computing and library skills.

Stage 1 modules are normally assessed by 100% coursework. At Stages 2 and 3, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework (such as essays), others by a combination of formal examination and coursework.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programmes specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes will depend on your specific module selection:

Careers

Italian and Religious Studies provides you with the opportunity to develop the key skills that graduate employers expect. These include the ability to manage your time effectively and work to clear deadlines, to communicate clearly in writing and orally (including experience of doing public presentations), and to absorb ideas from a wide range of different sources, organise these into some meaningful pattern, and develop your own critical discussion of them. In addition, the ability to speak another European language is a key asset in the global employment market, and many employers view a graduate with overseas study experience as more employable.

Modern Languages at Kent are doing a number of things to improve student employability, such as work-related modules and work placements. Both of these are a key part of the Languages in the Classroom module, designed for budding language teachers, which combines traditional learning methods with practical teaching experience.

Recent graduates have gone into areas such as teaching, translating and interpreting, publishing, travel, advertising, personnel, diplomacy, social work, journalism, media, marketing or further academic or vocational qualifications. Many of our graduates spend time working abroad.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

BBB

GCSE

B in a modern European language other than English

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 at HL, including a modern European language other than English 4 at HL or 5 at SL and World Religions 5 at SL (where taken)

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2018/19 entry tuition fees have not yet been set. As a guide only, the 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £13810

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2017/18 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,350. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2017/18 academic year pay £1,350 for that year. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Related to this course

Italian BA (Hons)

Full-time only

Canterbury

Religious Studies BA (Hons)

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury